Monday, September 21, 2009

"Be Nice"

Yes, more dog and cat riptrap. Consider yourself lucky that I stifled an urge for another Driftless Region travelogue, an episode of the toilet paper chronicles or a description of my breakfast which is known in some circles as the Mess. If I'm being tortured, so should you.

The cat comes upstairs early this morning. Three a.m. to be exact. Last night, I found him in the middle of the basement staring at the hardboard cover over an abandoned window leading to the deck. "Oh, no. Not another smelly carcass under the studio." I carry him upstairs. He immediately retreats to the basement. It's time for bed. Mandy the dog is tossed outside after yet another pee mishap. The animal's bladder has shrunk to the size of a pea, no pun intended. When I check on her, she's burrowed under two blankets. Nights are getting chilly in late September. The Pooch ( the cat) is sleeping in a makeshift bed on the potato table. I line a cover to a plastic tote with an afghan. He's on mouse patrol. O.K. by me.

So, it must have been cold in the basement to force the cat upstairs at three a.m. The thermometer next to eggs boxes filled with potatoes reads 64 degrees when I shuffle downstairs in bare feet to retrieve a Keuka Gold potato for breakfast. Pucci snuggles against me for warmth. At five I hear him leap off the bed and I roll over for some quality snooze time. At the usual wake up time, the Pooch announces his arrival with one loud mew. Then he scratches at whatever you call that thing that lines the perimeter of the bed. Dust ruffle? Walking across me several times, sticking his face and whiskers ten centimeters from my face, purring so loudly it sounds like trucks on the highway, I'm up rubbing sleep from my eyes.

I can't wax eloquently about dawn this morning. Yesterday the sun cast a rosy glow around the eastern horizon up to the ten o'clock position in the sky. With fog obliterating the background it was ethereal. This morning it's just foggy, cold and slightly damp. Both animals, I call them the kids, are nose to the ground involved in morning bathroom functions. The newly turned soil in the garden plots attracts the Pooch. Mandy evacuates wherever the urge hits her. The Pooch is wise to the puppy's ways and keeps a close eye out at the same time digging a new latrine. Mandy runs the length of an eighty foot, freshly tilled plot, zooms past the cat close enough to cause the Pooch to leap two feet straight up in the air and then picks up some garbage lying on the road. Corn leaves, tufts of grass, pieces of charcoal, rocks, sticks, anything that can be chewed.

I shouldn't, but I take pity on the Pooch. "Breakfast?" I ask. "Wanna come inside?" Fifty per cent of dog-cat fights are instigated by the cat. He's perfected a tantalizing grunt similar to "Nah, Nah, you can't catch me." It gets the puppy's attention every time. Then the cat makes a beeline for shelter. A tree, the deck railing or just the sand pile next to the unfinished patio below the kitchen window. They wrestle. With the cat on his bag and the dog nipping at the cat's ears, the routine will continue until one or both yelps in pain. I let both inside, in order of seniority. The cat prefers the safety of coming inside after the dog.

In the kitchen the dog eats the cat's food and the cat eats dog food. I fry a small polish sausage patty leftover from sausage making Sunday afternoon. I'm very proud of this batch. Mandy seems quite interested in my garlicky pork. She looks at her Chophouse Steak flavor dog food in disgust and walks over to the Nine Lives Plus Care. When the polish patty is cool, I cut it into bits for the dog. She wolfs it down. I'm secretly pleased that I have the dog's approval.

I throw them both out to enjoy my Mess while reading a mystery novel. My allotted 30 minutes for this post is up. It's too quiet outside. I should go check on the kids.

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